The Editors Guild of India on today described as "cruel" and a "classic case of shooting the messenger", the Uttar Pradesh government's complaint against a journalist for reporting that rotis and salt were being served to children as mid-day meal at a school in Mirzapur. "It is a cruel and classic case of shooting the messenger. It is precisely exposes such as these that show how valuable free and fearless journalists are to a democratic society," the Guild said.
Here is the full text of the Editor's Guild statement :
The Editors Guild of India condemns the Uttar Pradesh government's action of filing an FIR under serious sections of criminal law against journalist Pawan Jaiswal for his report that mere rotis and salt were being served to school children as their lawfully guaranteed mid-day meal in Siyur primary school, Mirzapur.
It is a cruel and classic case of shooting the messenger. It is precisely exposes such as these that show how valuable free and fearless journalists are to a democratic society. It is shocking that instead of taking action to fix what is wrong on the ground, the government has filed criminal cases against the journalist. Even if the government believes that his report is wrong, there are easy and conventional redresses available. Using the IPC and police is no way to respond to this.
The Guild urges that the state government withdraw these cases forthwith and ensure that the journalist is not put to any further harm or harassment.
The Guild also expresses grave concern over recent incidents of restrictions on the overseas travel of journalists. The latest being the denial of travel permission at the airport for journalist Gowhar Geelani, who works for a German media organisation. The law does indeed give the government such powers but only in the rarest of rare cases and following due procedure and disclosure. There must be transparency in these decisions.
The Guild urges the government not to create a situation where the constitutionally and legally mandated freedoms of media representatives are compromised.